PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP0730907 27.09.2001
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0730907
Titel System zum Überführen von Gegenständen durch eine Öffnung
Anmelder The Boc Group, Inc., Murray Hill, N.J., US
Erfinder Renzi, Ernesto, Youngstown, New York 14174, US;
Krikhaar, Johannes, 5521 KD Eersel, NL
Vertreter Schroeter Fleuchaus Lehmann & Gallo, 86152 Augsburg
DE-Aktenzeichen 69614592
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, DE, DK, ES, FR, GB, IT, NL, SE
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 07.03.1996
EP-Aktenzeichen 963015698
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 11.09.1996
EP date of grant 22.08.2001
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 27.09.2001
IPC-Hauptklasse B01L 1/02
IPC-Nebenklasse B25J 21/02   

Beschreibung[en]
Description for the following Contracting States :DE, ES, FR, GB, IT

This invention relates to a transfer port system for transferring articles between two sterile environments that are adapted to be brought into close proximity to one another by a docking operation. More particularly, the invention relates to such a transfer port system in which one or both of the sterile environments is also a vacuum environment such as a freeze drier and the other of the sterile environments is an isolation chamber surrounding a loading cart designed to dock with the freeze drier.

Many industrial processes require the maintenance of clean sterile conditions during product manufacture and packaging. This requirement is nowhere greater than in the pharmaceutical industry in which products are manufactured and packaged under predefined conditions of sterility in order to prevent bacterial contamination. In the packaging of pharmaceutical products, vials are washed and are then conveyed through a sterilising tunnel to a filling machine which provides a sterile environment to fill the vials with product and to loosely cap the vials with stoppers. Afterward, the vials travel to a clean room where they are accumulated on an accumulation table. The vials are then loaded on a loading cart, a motorised vehicle designed to convey the vials to a portal of a freeze drier projecting into the clean room. The loading cart has a sliding table that projects into the freeze drier portal to allow the vials to be shifted to the freeze drier shelves. Each freeze drier shelf is raised into a loading position, loaded and raised to raise the next underlying shelf into the loading position. At the conclusion of the freeze drying operation a hydraulic ram within the freeze drier packs the stoppers into the vials.

As can be appreciated, the maintenance of a clean room is an expensive proposition. Moreover, the workers must be clothed in clean suits which are uncomfortable and require them to leave the clean room for relaxation and relief.

EP-A-0 662 373 (filing date 06.01.95, priority date 07.01.94, publication date 12.07.95) discloses a sealed system for facilitating transfer of material between two environments.

The invention provides a transfer port system that is particularly suitable for use in providing a sterile interface between an accumulation table and a loading cart and also a sterile interface between the loading cart and a freeze drier in order to eliminate the clean room. The invention is not limited to freeze drying applications.

In accordance with the invention, there is provided a transfer port between two sterile environments having docked and undocked positions, the door mechanism comprising:

  • two door frames connected to the environments and two doors connected to the two door frames so that when the two sterile environments are in the docked position, the two door frames and the two doors are juxtaposed and in close physical contact with one another and when the two sterile environments are in the undocked position, the two door frames are spaced apart from one another and the two doors seal the two sterile environments;
  • the two door frames and doors having a potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture located at an outer periphery of the two doors when in their juxtaposition;
  • door connection means for connecting the two doors to one another when the two sterile environments are in the docked position;
  • opening means for opening the transfer port, the opening means having means for moving the doors when connected to one another between a closed position sealing the two sterile environments and an open position away from the two door frames permitting transport through the two door frames and between the two sterile environments; and
  • heating means for heating and thereby sterilising the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture,
wherein the heating means comprises at least one of the two door frames having internal channels for circulation of the heat transfer fluid to heat the two door frames and the two doors and thereby to sterilise the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture.

In such heating means, an inlet and an outlet to the internal peripheral channel is preferably provided for introducing the heat transfer fluid into the intemal peripheral channel and for discharging the heat transfer fluid from the internal peripheral channel respectively.

The use of the heat transfer fluid permits temperatures within the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture to be maintained in a range of between about 150°C. and about 300°C for long periods of time. This will generally guarantee terminal sterilisation. In an application of the invention involving freeze driers, the heat transfer fluid can be formed from diathermic fluid that is being used to heat freeze drier shelves during the freeze drier process. Hence, the transfer port of the invention, although not limited to applications involving the use of freeze driers, can be very advantageously utilised in connection with pharmaceutical manufacturing employing freeze driers in the preparation and packaging of product.

Preferably also, the door connection means has means for producing a vacuum between the two doors or an electromagnetic coupling between the two doors.

For a better understanding of the invention, reference will now be made, by way of exemplification only, to the accompanying drawings in which:

  • Figure 1 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of a freeze drier and loading cart employing a docking port system in accordance with the invention with the sterile environments of the freeze drier and the loading cart shown in their undocked position;
  • Figure 2 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of the freeze drier and loading cart shown in Figure 1 in the docked position;
  • Figure 3 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of the freeze drier and loading cart in the docked position shown in Figure 2 and with doors in an open position to allow transfer of articles through the transfer port;
  • Figure 4 is a front elevational view of a door used in the transfer port system of the present invention; and
  • Figure 5 is an enlarged fragmentary view of Figure 1 illustrating an outer vacuum door in accordance with the invention.

With reference to Figure 1, a transfer port system 1 in accordance with the invention is illustrated as being applied to a freeze drier 2 having an internal sterile environment 3 and a loading cart 4. The loading cart 4 is surrounded by an isolation chamber 5 to provide a sterile environment 6. The base structure of loading cart 4, also not illustrated, would project through an isolation chamber 5 and would be sealed at the locations at which the isolation chamber 5 were penetrated by such base structure so as to maintain a sterile environment 6. With additional reference to Figure 2, the loading cart 4 is a conventional loading cart and is designed so that the sterile environment 6 can assume the docked position with the internal sterile environment 3 of the freeze drier 2. As illustrated, the loading cart 4 holds trays of vials 7 to be loaded onto freeze drier shelves 8 on an extensible or sliding table portion 9. The table portion 9 is designed to extend into freeze drier 2 to accomplish the loading in a known manner.

The vials 7 are retrieved from an accumulation table having an isolated environment and a door system, which although not shown, would include an isolated environment such as the type of environment provided by the isolation chamber 5 and a door system sharing similar components to those used in connection with freeze drier 2. The environment used with the accumulation table allows transfer of vials 8 from the sterile environment of the accumulation table to the sterile environment provided by the isolation chamber 5 of the loading cart 4 under predetermined sterile conditions. Thereafter, vials 8 are again transferred from the loading cart 4 and the isolation chamber 5 to the internal sterile environment 3 of the freeze drier 2, again, under such predetermined sterile conditions. As such, there is no need for a clean room to be provided for the loading cart 4 to travel between the accumulation table and the freeze drier 2.

The transfer port system 1 is provided with two door frames 10 and 12 which are respectively connected to the freeze drier 2 and the isolation chamber 5. Two doors 14 and 16 are connected to the door frames 10 and 12 so that when in the docked position, the door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 14 and 16 are in the illustrated juxtaposed position, in close physical contact with one another. In the undocked position, the door frames 10 and 12 and therefore, the doors 14 and 16 are spaced apart from one another with the doors 14 and 16 respectively sealing the sterile environments 3 and 6. The door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 14 and 16 are substantially of rectangular configuration with the doors 14 and 16 having rounded corners.

With reference to Figure 3, a surface 18 of the door 14 and a surface 20 of the door 16 are sterile surfaces because they are located within the sterile environments 3 and 6, respectively. Additionally, peripheral surfaces 22 and 24 of the door 14 and the door frame 10, respectively, and peripheral surfaces 26 and 28 of the door 16 and the door frame 12, respectively, are sterile surfaces as well. The juxtaposed surfaces of the doors 14 and 16 are provided with central recessed surfaces 30 and 32 to form a chamber 34 having a vacuum inlet 35 which will be discussed hereinafter. These aforementioned surfaces, although not sterile, are in close physical contact when the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position. However, an outer juncture 36 between the doors 14 and. 22 and an inner juncture 37 of the door frames 10 and 12 is not sterile. As will discussed, the doors 14 and 16 are rotated in an opened position to open transfer port formed by the door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 14 and 16. Thus, when so opened, a peripheral band 38 at the door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 13 and 16 is formed that is potentially not sterile.

In order to sterilise this peripheral band of non-sterility, peripheral channels 39 are provided for circulating a heat transfer fluid in the door frame 10. Since the door frame 10 is of rectangular configuration, horizontal segments of the peripheral channels 39 which are illustrated in cross-section in Figures 1 and 2 would communicate with vertical segments of the peripheral channels 39. The transfer fluid enters the peripheral channels 39 through a fluid inlet 40 and is discharged from the peripheral channels 39 via a fluid outlet 42. As could be appreciated, the peripheral channels 39 could be provided in the door frame 12 but not in the door frame 10 or alternatively, peripheral channels such as the peripheral channels 39 could be provided in both the door frames 10 and 12. Also, peripheral channels could be provided within either or both of the doors 14 and 16. It should also be pointed out that the sterile isolation chamber of the accumulation table (described herein but not illustrated) would have a door and door frame combination that would be the same as that illustrated for the door frame 10 and the door 14 thereof. A source of heat transfer fluid would be provided for sterilisation purposes mentioned above.

When the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position, a connection means is provided for connecting the doors 14 and 16 to one another. Since the freeze drying process involves the sublimation of water under subatmospheric conditions, a source of vacuum is provided which is applied to the chamber 34 through the vacuum inlet 35. Although not shown, a vacuum line would lead to the vacuum supply of freeze drier 2. In order to draw a vacuum in chamber 34, a peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 44 is provided for the door 14 and a similar peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 46 is provided for the door frame 12. The application of vacuum holds the doors 14 and 16 tightly against one another so that they can be rotated as a unit into an open position allowing transfer of vials 8 through the door frames 10 and 12 and thus, the transfer port system 1. In a proper application of the invention, a mechanical latching mechanism or an electromagnetic latching mechanism could be used in place of the vacuum system, described above, to hold doors against one another. In this regard, the electromagnetic latching mechanism could comprise electromagnets recessed in one of the doors 14 and 16 and complementary ferromagnetic materials recessed within the other of the doors 14 and 16 (if doors are made from a weak or non-ferromagnetic material) to be attracted by the electromagnets and thus hold the doors together.

A peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 44 has adjacent sealing surfaces 44A and 44B set within the peripheral surfaces 22 and of the door 14 and the front surface portions of the door 14 to seal against the peripheral surfaces of the door frame 10 and the front surface portions of the door 16. Similarly, a peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 46 has sealing surfaces 46A and 46B set within the peripheral surfaces 28 of the door frame 12 and the front surface portions thereof to seal against the peripheral surfaces 26 of the door 16 and the front surface portions of the door frame 12. In cross-section, the peripheral sealing gaskets 44 and 46 have an arrowhead-like configuration. Their point of contact defines the peripheral band 38 of non-sterility that must be sterilised in order to ensure and maintain sterile conditions within transfer port system 1. The vacuum sealing gaskets 44 and 46 would be moulded in position to prevent separation from the doors 14 and 16 and discontinuous backing on the doors 14 and 16.

The door 16 is held in place and released from the door frame 12 by means that can comprise a system of latching pins 48 which are activated by a double acting solenoid 50 having an actuating arm 52 acting within a welded steel bellows 54. The actuating arm 52 acts against a crown piece 56 that is connected to the bellows 54 and the actuating arm 52. The latching pin 48 is in turn connected to the crown piece 56, for example by welding. A guide 58 is provided to guide the latching pin 48 into a latch member 60 connected to the door 16. It is to be noted that both the latch member 60 and a distal end 62 of the latching pin 48 are wedge shaped. The angles of these wedges are not equal so that when the distal end 62 of the latching pin 48 is seated within the latching member 60, the door 16 is driven inwardly of the door frame 12 to produce a hermetic seal.

The door 14 is held in position by a motorised hinge mechanism 64 which has a pivotable L-shaped lug 66 connected to the door 14 and a stationary lug 68 connected to the door frame 10. Two or more set of such hinge mechanisms would be used to support the door 14 in both the closed and open positions thereof and for pivoting the door 14 between such positions. A motor driven shaft 70 rotates within the stationary lug 68 and is further attached to the pivotable L-shaped lug 66 to move the door 14 between closed and open positions.

When the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position, a vacuum is drawn within the chamber 34 causing the doors 14 and 16 to be held tightly against one another. At the same time the solenoids 50 are activated to move the latching pins 48 outwardly so that the distal end 62 of the pins 48 unseats from the latching members 60. Thereafter, the motor driven shaft 70 rotates in a counterclockwise direction of rotation pivoting the doors 14 and 16 in a counterclockwise and downward direction indicated by arrowhead A to open the transfer port and to allow transfer of vials 7 onto the shelves 8.

With further reference now to Figure 4, it is to be noted that, when the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position and a vacuum is drawn forcing the doors 14 and 16 against one another, a solid object is formed having the shape of a frustum of a pyramid. In fact, each door is so shaped. This shape is not exactly a pyramid in that the corners are rounded to permit use of the peripheral vacuum sealing gaskets 44 and 46. The pyramid-like shape is necessary so that the doors 12 and 14 can be given a rectangular configuration while being allowed pivotable motion out of the door frames 14 and 16. For instance, if the peripheral sealing surfaces of the doors 14 and 16 were not angled as illustrated, the assembly of the doors 14 and 16 could not be rotated out of the door frames 10 and 12.

Referring to Figure 5, where one of these sterile environments is also a vacuum environment such as in a freeze drier, an outer vacuum door 72 can be utilised. The vacuum door 72 is hinged by a hinge mechanism 74 to an outer frame-like member 76 and is latched in place against the outer frame-like member 76 via a latching mechanism 78 which is activated via a hydraulic actuator, only the actuating rod 80 of which is illustrated in the figures. The frame-like member 76 is provided with a vacuum 'O' ring sealing gasket 82 that surrounds the door frame 10 to produce a vacuum seal surrounding the door frame 10 and door 14.

The vacuum door 72 has a layered construction formed by a central plate 84 and opposed inner and outer plates 86 and 88. A plurality of ribs 90 separate the inner plate 86 from the central plate 84 and the plurality of ribs 92 separate the outer plate 88 from the central plate 84. The aforementioned ribs and plates are constructed with the ribs having an interlocking construction of two elements which can be separately welded to the plates and then interlocked during final assembly. The ribs 90 are staggered in a direction normal to the illustration so that an inner layer of the vacuum door 72 can act as a heat exchanger to circulate diathermic fluid (or other heat transfer fluid in case of other applications of transfer port system 1) through the inner layer of the vacuum door 72. To this end, the formed heat exchanger has an inlet 94 and an outlet 96. The outer layer formed between the outer plates 88 and the central plate 84 is vacuum sealed to provide vacuum insulation and protection of workmen passing the transfer port system 1 when loading the cart 4 and therefore the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the undocked position. Again the ribs 92 can be staggered in a direction normal to the illustration for this purpose.

Description for the following Contracting States :AT, BE, DK, NL, SE

This invention relates to a transfer port system for transferring articles between two sterile environments that are adapted to be brought into close proximity to one another by a docking operation. More particularly, the invention relates to such a transfer port system in which one or both of the sterile environments is also a vacuum environment such as a freeze drier and the other of the sterile environments is an isolation chamber surrounding a loading cart designed to dock with the freeze drier.

Many industrial processes require the maintenance of clean sterile conditions during product manufacture and packaging. This requirement is nowhere greater than in the pharmaceutical industry in which products are manufactured and packaged under predefined conditions of sterility in order to prevent bacterial contamination. In the packaging of pharmaceutical products, vials are washed and are then conveyed through a sterilising tunnel to a filling machine which provides a sterile environment to fill the vials with product and to loosely cap the vials with stoppers. Afterward, the vials travel to a clean room where they are accumulated on an accumulation table. The vials are then loaded on a loading cart, a motorised vehicle designed to convey the vials to a portal of a freeze drier projecting into the clean room. The loading cart has a sliding table that projects into the freeze drier portal to allow the vials to be shifted to the freeze drier shelves. Each freeze drier shelf is raised into a loading position, loaded and raised to raise the next underlying shelf into the loading position. At the conclusion of the freeze drying operation a hydraulic ram within the freeze drier packs the stoppers into the vials.

As can be appreciated, the maintenance of a clean room is an expensive proposition. Moreover, the workers must be clothed in clean suits which are uncomfortable and require them to leave the clean room for relaxation and relief.

EP-A-0 662 373 (filing date 06.01.95, priority date 07.01.94, publication date 12.07.95) discloses a sealed system for facilitating transfer of material between two environments.

The invention provides a transfer port system that is particularly suitable for use in providing a sterile interface between an accumulation table and a loading cart and also a sterile interface between the loading cart and a freeze drier in order to eliminate the clean room. The invention is not limited to freeze drying applications.

In accordance with the invention, there is provided a transfer port between two sterile environments having docked and undocked positions, the door mechanism comprising:

  • two door frames connected to the environments and two doors connected to the two door frames so that when the two sterile environments are in the docked position, the two door frames and the two doors are juxtaposed and in close physical contact with one another and when the two sterile environments are in the undocked position, the two door frames are spaced apart from one another and the two doors seal the two sterile environments;
  • the two door frames and doors having a potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture located at an outer periphery of the two doors when in their juxtaposition;
  • door connection means for connecting the two doors to one another when the two sterile environments are in the docked position;
  • opening means for opening the transfer port, the opening means having means for moving the doors when connected to one another between a closed position sealing the two sterile environments and an open position away from the two door frames permitting transport through the two door frames and between the two sterile environments; and
  • heating means for heating and thereby sterilising the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture.

Preferably also, the door connection means has means for producing a vacuum between the two doors or an electromagnetic coupling between the two doors.

Preferably the heating means can comprise at least one of the two door frames having internal channels for circulation of the heat transfer fluid to heat the two door frames and the two doors and thereby to sterilise the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture. In such heating means, an inlet and an outlet to the internal peripheral channel is preferably provided for introducing the heat transfer fluid into the internal peripheral channel and for discharging the heat transfer fluid from the internal peripheral channel respectively.

The use of the heat transfer fluid permits temperatures within the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture to be maintained in a range of between about 150°C. and about 300°C for long periods of time. This will generally guarantee terminal sterilisation. In an application of the invention involving freeze driers, the heat transfer fluid can be formed from diathermic fluid that is being used to heat freeze drier shelves during the freeze drier process. Hence, the transfer port of the invention, although not limited to applications involving the use of freeze driers, can be very advantageously utilised in connection with pharmaceutical manufacturing employing freeze driers in the preparation and packaging of product.

For a better understanding of the invention, reference will now be made, by way of exemplification only, to the accompanying drawings in which:

  • Figure 1 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of a freeze drier and loading cart employing a docking port system in accordance with the invention with the sterile environments of the freeze drier and the loading cart shown in their undocked position;
  • Figure 2 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of the freeze drier and loading cart shown in Figure 1 in the docked position;
  • Figure 3 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of the freeze drier and loading cart in the docked position shown in Figure 2 and with doors in an open position to allow transfer of articles through the transfer port;
  • Figure 4 is a front elevational view of a door used in the transfer port system of the present invention; and
  • Figure 5 is an enlarged fragmentary view of Figure 1 illustrating an outer vacuum door in accordance with the invention.

With reference to Figure 1, a transfer port system 1 in accordance with the invention is illustrated as being applied to a freeze drier 2 having an internal sterile environment 3 and a loading cart 4. The loading cart 4 is surrounded by an isolation chamber 5 to provide a sterile environment 6. The base structure of loading cart 4, also not illustrated, would project through an isolation chamber 5 and would be sealed at the locations at which the isolation chamber 5 were penetrated by such base structure so as to maintain a sterile environment 6. With additional reference to Figure 2, the loading cart 4 is a conventional loading cart and is designed so that the sterile environment 6 can assume the docked position with the internal sterile environment 3 of the freeze drier 2. As illustrated, the loading cart 4 holds trays of vials 7 to be loaded onto freeze drier shelves 8 on an extensible or sliding table portion 9. The table portion 9 is designed to extend into freeze drier 2 to accomplish the loading in a known manner.

The vials 7 are retrieved from an accumulation table having an isolated environment and a door system, which although not shown, would include an isolated environment such as the type of environment provided by the isolation chamber 5 and a door system sharing similar components to those used in connection with freeze drier 2. The environment used with the accumulation table allows transfer of vials 8 from the sterile environment of the accumulation table to the sterile environment provided by the isolation chamber 5 of the loading cart 4 under predetermined sterile conditions. Thereafter, vials 8 are again transferred from the loading cart 4 and the isolation chamber 5 to the internal sterile environment 3 of the freeze drier 2, again, under such predetermined sterile conditions. As such, there is no need for a clean room to be provided for the loading cart 4 to travel between the accumulation table and the freeze drier 2.

The transfer port system 1 is provided with two door frames 10 and 12 which are respectively connected to the freeze drier 2 and the isolation chamber 5. Two doors 14 and 16 are connected to the door frames 10 and 12 so that when in the docked position, the door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 14 and 16 are in the illustrated juxtaposed position, in close physical contact with one another. In the undocked position, the door frames 10 and 12 and therefore, the doors 14 and 16 are spaced apart from one another with the doors 14 and 16 respectively sealing the sterile environments 3 and 6. The door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 14 and 16 are substantially of rectangular configuration with the doors 14 and 16 having rounded corners.

With reference to Figure 3, a surface 18 of the door 14 and a surface 20 of the door 16 are sterile surfaces because they are located within the sterile environments 3 and 6, respectively. Additionally, peripheral surfaces 22 and 24 of the door 14 and the door frame 10, respectively, and peripheral surfaces 26 and 28 of the door 16 and the door frame 12, respectively, are sterile surfaces as well. The juxtaposed surfaces of the doors 14 and 16 are provided with central recessed surfaces 30 and 32 to form a chamber 34 having a vacuum inlet 35 which will be discussed hereinafter. These aforementioned surfaces, although not sterile, are in close physical contact when the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position. However, an outer juncture 36 between the doors 14 and. 22 and an inner juncture 37 of the door frames 10 and 12 is not sterile. As will discussed, the doors 14 and 16 are rotated in an opened position to open transfer port formed by the door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 14 and 16. Thus, when so opened, a peripheral band 38 at the door frames 10 and 12 and the doors 13 and 16 is formed that is potentially not sterile.

In order to sterilise this peripheral band of non-sterility, peripheral channels 39 are provided for circulating a heat transfer fluid in the door frame 10. Since the door frame 10 is of rectangular configuration, horizontal segments of the peripheral channels 39 which are illustrated in cross-section in Figures 1 and 2 would communicate with vertical segments of the peripheral channels 39. The transfer fluid enters the peripheral channels 39 through a fluid inlet 40 and is discharged from the peripheral channels 39 via a fluid outlet 42. As could be appreciated, the peripheral channels 39 could be provided in the door frame 12 but not in the door frame 10 or alternatively, peripheral channels such as the peripheral channels 39 could be provided in both the door frames 10 and 12. Also, peripheral channels could be provided within either or both of the doors 14 and 16. It should also be pointed out that the sterile isolation chamber of the accumulation table (described herein but not illustrated) would have a door and door frame combination that would be the same as that illustrated for the door frame 10 and the door 14 thereof. A source of heat transfer fluid would be provided for sterilisation purposes mentioned above.

When the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position, a connection means is provided for connecting the doors 14 and 16 to one another. Since the freeze drying process involves the sublimation of water under subatmospheric conditions, a source of vacuum is provided which is applied to the chamber 34 through the vacuum inlet 35. Although not shown, a vacuum line would lead to the vacuum supply of freeze drier 2. In order to draw a vacuum in chamber 34, a peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 44 is provided for the door 14 and a similar peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 46 is provided for the door frame 12. The application of vacuum holds the doors 14 and 16 tightly against one another so that they can be rotated as a unit into an open position allowing transfer of vials 8 through the door frames 10 and 12 and thus, the transfer port system 1. In a proper application of the invention, a mechanical latching mechanism or an electromagnetic latching mechanism could be used in place of the vacuum system, described above, to hold doors against one another. In this regard, the electromagnetic latching mechanism could comprise electromagnets recessed in one of the doors 14 and 16 and complementary ferromagnetic materials recessed within the other of the doors 14 and 16 (if doors are made from a weak or non-ferromagnetic material) to be attracted by the electromagnets and thus hold the doors together.

A peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 44 has adjacent sealing surfaces 44A and 44B set within the peripheral surfaces 22 and of the door 14 and the front surface portions of the door 14 to seal against the peripheral surfaces of the door frame 10 and the front surface portions of the door 16. Similarly, a peripheral vacuum sealing gasket 46 has sealing surfaces 46A and 46B set within the peripheral surfaces 28 of the door frame 12 and the front surface portions thereof to seal against the peripheral surfaces 26 of the door 16 and the front surface portions of the door frame 12. In cross-section, the peripheral sealing gaskets 44 and 46 have an arrowhead-like configuration. Their point of contact defines the peripheral band 38 of non-sterility that must be sterilised in order to ensure and maintain sterile conditions within transfer port system 1. The vacuum sealing gaskets 44 and 46 would be moulded in position to prevent separation from the doors 14 and 16 and discontinuous backing on the doors 14 and 16.

The door 16 is held in place and released from the door frame 12 by means that can comprise a system of latching pins 48 which are activated by a double acting solenoid 50 having an actuating arm 52 acting within a welded steel bellows 54. The actuating arm 52 acts against a crown piece 56 that is connected to the bellows 54 and the actuating arm 52. The latching pin 48 is in turn connected to the crown piece 56, for example by welding. A guide 58 is provided to guide the latching pin 48 into a latch member 60 connected to the door 16. It is to be noted that both the latch member 60 and a distal end 62 of the latching pin 48 are wedge shaped. The angles of these wedges are not equal so that when the distal end 62 of the latching pin 48 is seated within the latching member 60, the door 16 is driven inwardly of the door frame 12 to produce a hermetic seal.

The door 14 is held in position by a motorised hinge mechanism 64 which has a pivotable L-shaped lug 66 connected to the door 14 and a stationary lug 68 connected to the door frame 10. Two or more set of such hinge mechanisms would be used to support the door 14 in both the closed and open positions thereof and for pivoting the door 14 between such positions. A motor driven shaft 70 rotates within the stationary lug 68 and is further attached to the pivotable L-shaped lug 66 to move the door 14 between closed and open positions.

When the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position, a vacuum is drawn within the chamber 34 causing the doors 14 and 16 to be held tightly against one another. At the same time the solenoids 50 are activated to move the latching pins 48 outwardly so that the distal end 62 of the pins 48 unseats from the latching members 60. Thereafter, the motor driven shaft 70 rotates in a counterclockwise direction of rotation pivoting the doors 14 and 16 in a counterclockwise and downward direction indicated by arrowhead A to open the transfer port and to allow transfer of vials 7 onto the shelves 8.

With further reference now to Figure 4, it is to be noted that, when the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the docked position and a vacuum is drawn forcing the doors 14 and 16 against one another, a solid object is formed having the shape of a frustum of a pyramid. In fact, each door is so shaped. This shape is not exactly a pyramid in that the corners are rounded to permit use of the peripheral vacuum sealing gaskets 44 and 46. The pyramid-like shape is necessary so that the doors 12 and 14 can be given a rectangular configuration while being allowed pivotable motion out of the door frames 14 and 16. For instance, if the peripheral sealing surfaces of the doors 14 and 16 were not angled as illustrated, the assembly of the doors 14 and 16 could not be rotated out of the door frames 10 and 12.

Referring to Figure 5, where one of these sterile environments is also a vacuum environment such as in a freeze drier, an outer vacuum door 72 can be utilised. The vacuum door 72 is hinged by a hinge mechanism 74 to an outer frame-like member 76 and is latched in place against the outer frame-like member 76 via a latching mechanism 78 which is activated via a hydraulic actuator, only the actuating rod 80 of which is illustrated in the figures. The frame-like member 76 is provided with a vacuum 'O' ring sealing gasket 82 that surrounds the door frame 10 to produce a vacuum seal surrounding the door frame 10 and door 14.

The vacuum door 72 has a layered construction formed by a central plate 84 and opposed inner and outer plates 86 and 88. A plurality of ribs 90 separate the inner plate 86 from the central plate 84 and the plurality of ribs 92 separate the outer plate 88 from the central plate 84. The aforementioned ribs and plates are constructed with the ribs having an interlocking construction of two elements which can be separately welded to the plates and then interlocked during final assembly. The ribs 90 are staggered in a direction normal to the illustration so that an inner layer of the vacuum door 72 can act as a heat exchanger to circulate diathermic fluid (or other heat transfer fluid in case of other applications of transfer port system 1) through the inner layer of the vacuum door 72. To this end, the formed heat exchanger has an inlet 94 and an outlet 96. The outer layer formed between the outer plates 88 and the central plate 84 is vacuum sealed to provide vacuum insulation and protection of workmen passing the transfer port system 1 when loading the cart 4 and therefore the sterile environments 3 and 6 are in the undocked position. Again the ribs 92 can be staggered in a direction normal to the illustration for this purpose.


Anspruch[de]
Patentansprüche für folgende Vertragsstaaten : DE, ES, FR, GB, IT
  1. Transferschleuse (1) zwischen zwei sterilen Umgebungen mit einer gekuppelten und einer ungekuppelten Position, wobei die Transferschleuse aufweist:
    • zwei Türrahmen (10, 12), die mit den Umgebungen verbunden sind, und zwei Türen (14, 16, 72), die mit den beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) so verbunden sind, daß, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich in der gekuppelten Position befinden, die zwei Türrahmen (10, 12) und die zwei Türen (14, 16, 72) sich nebeneinander und in fester mechanischer Berührung miteinander befinden, und, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich in der ungekuppelten Stellung befinden, die beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) voneinander beabstandet sind und die beiden Türen (14, 16) die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) jeweils verschließen,
    • wobei die beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) und Türen (14, 16, 72) eine möglicherweise nicht sterile periphere Verbindung (36) an der Außenperipherie der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) haben, wenn diese aneinander anliegen,
    • Türverbindungsmittel (35) zum Verbinden der beiden Türen miteinander, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) in der gekuppelten Position sind,
    • Öffnungsmittel (70) zum Öffnen der Transferschleuse, wobei die Öffnungsmittel Mittel zum Bewegen der Türen (14, 16, 72), wenn diese miteinander verbunden sind, zwischen einer Schließstellung, welche die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) und einer von den beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) entfernten Offenstellung aufweisen, die einen Transport durch die beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) und zwischen den beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) ermöglichen, und
    • Heizmittel (94, 96) zum Beheizen und dadurch sterilisieren der möglicherweise nicht sterilen peripheren Verbindung,
    wobei die Heizmittel mindestens einen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) mit inneren Kanälen (39) zur Zirkulation eines Wärmeübertragungsmediums zum Beheizen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) und der beiden Türen und dadurch zum Sterilisieren der möglicherweise nicht sterilen peripheren Verbindung aufweisen.
  2. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Türverbindungsmittel Mittel (35) zum Erzeugen eines Vakuums zwischen den beiden Türen oder eine elektromagnetische Kupplung zwischen den beiden Türen aufweisen.
  3. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Türverbindungsmittel aufweisen:
    • mittige Flächenvertiefungen (30, 32) der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) die eine Kammer (34) zwischen den beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) während der gekuppelten Position der beiden sterilen Umgebungen (36) bilden,
    • Vakuumdichtungsmittel (44, 46), welche die Kammer (34) umgeben, um eine Vakuumdichtung zwischen den beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) zu bilden, und
    • einen Einlaß (35) in die Kammer (34), um die Kammer einem unteratmosphärischen Druck auszusetzen und dadurch die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) während der gekuppelten Position der beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) miteinander zu verbinden.
  4. Transferschleuse (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei
    • die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) eine rechteckige Konfiguration und so geformte periphere Kanten haben, daß die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72), wenn sie miteinander verbunden sind, einen Pyramidenstumpf bilden, und
    • die Öffnungsmittel (70) schwenkbare Verbindungsmittel zum schwenkbaren Verbinden einer der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72), welche die Basis des Pyramidenstumpfs bildet, mit einem der beiden Türrahmen aufweisen.
  5. Transferschleuse (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, weiter mit lösbaren Verbindungsmitteln (48) zum lösbaren Verbinden der anderen der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) mit dem anderen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12), so daß, wenn die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) verbunden sind, die andere der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) sich vom anderen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) löst, und, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich im ungekuppelten Zustand befinden, die andere der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) mit dem anderen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) verbunden ist.
  6. Transferschleuse (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei
    • mindestens eine der sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) außerdem ein Vakuumraum ist, und
    • die Transferschleuse (1) weiter mindestens eine äußere Vakuumtür (72), die an mindestens einem der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) angelenkt ist, und Dichtungsmittel (82) zum Abdichten mindestens einer der äußeren Vakuumtüren (72) gegen mindestens einen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) aufweist.
  7. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 6, wobei
    • eine der beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) stationär ist und den Vakuumraum darstellt, und die andere sterile Umgebung mobil ist,
    • mindestens eine äußere Vakuumtür (72) an einem der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) angelenkt ist, und
    • die Dichtungsmittel (82) eine Vakuum-O-Ringdichtung aufweisen, die in einem der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) eingesetzt ist.
  8. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 7, wobei die mindestens eine Vakuumtür (72) eine so konfigurierte Innenschicht aufweist, daß sie als Wärmetauscher zum Zirkulieren des Wärmeaustauschmediums darin wirkt, und eine äußere Vakuum-abgedichtete Schicht angrenzend an die Innenschicht aufweist.
  9. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 8, wobei
    • die beiden Türen (72) eine rechteckige Konfiguration und periphere Kanten haben, die so geformt sind, daß die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72), wenn sie miteinander verbunden sind, einen Pyramidenstumpf bilden,
    • die Öffnungsmittel (70) schwenkbare Verbindungsmittel zum schwenkbaren Verbinden eine der beiden Türen (70), die eine Basis des Pyramidenstumpfs bildet, mit einem der Rahmen aufweisen, und
    • die Transferschleuse (1) des weiteren lösbare Verbindungsmittel (48) zum lösbaren Verbinden der anderen Tür (70) mit dem anderen Türrahmen (70) aufweist, so daß, wenn die beiden Türen miteinander verbunden sind, die andere Tür sich von dem anderen Türrahmen (10, 12) löst, und wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich in ihrer ungekuppelten Position befindet, die Tür (70) mit dem anderen Türrahmen (10, 12) verbunden ist.
Patentansprüche für folgende Vertragsstaaten : AT, BE, DK, NL, SE
  1. Transferschleuse (1) zwischen zwei sterilen Umgebungen mit einer gekuppelten und einer ungekuppelten Position, wobei die Transferschleuse aufweist:
    • zwei Türrahmen (10, 12), die mit den Umgebungen verbunden sind, und zwei Türen (14, 16, 72), die mit den beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) so verbunden sind, daß, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich in der gekuppelten Position befinden, die zwei Türrahmen (10, 12) und die zwei Türen (14, 16, 72) sich nebeneinander und in fester mechanischer Berührung miteinander befinden, und, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich in der ungekuppelten Stellung befinden, die beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) voneinander beabstandet sind und die beiden Türen (14, 16) die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) jeweils verschließen,
    • wobei die beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) und Türen (14, 16, 72) eine möglicherweise nicht sterile periphere Verbindung (36) an der Außenperipherie der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) haben, wenn diese aneinander anliegen,
    • Türverbindungsmittel, (35) zum Verbinden der beiden Türen miteinander, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) in der gekuppelten Position sind,
    • Öffnungsmittel (70) zum Öffnen der Transferschleuse, wobei die Öffnungsmittel Mittel zum Bewegen der Türen (14, 16, 72), wenn diese miteinander verbünden sind, zwischen einer Schließstellung, welche die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) und einer von den beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) entfernten Offenstellung aufweisen, die einen Transport durch die beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) und zwischen den beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) ermöglichen, und
    • Heizmittel (94, 96) zum Beheizen und dadurch sterilisieren der möglicherweise nicht sterilen peripheren Verbindung,
  2. Transferschleuse nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Heizmittel mindestens einen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) mit inneren Kanälen (39) zur Zirkulation eines Wärmeübertragungsmediums zum Beheizen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) und der beiden Türen und dadurch zum Sterilisieren der möglicherweise nicht sterilen peripheren Verbindung, einen Einlaß und einen Auslaß zu den inneren peripheren Kanälen zum Einleiten des Wärmeübertragungsmediums in die inneren peripheren Kanäle bzw. zum Ableiten des Wärmeübertragungsmediums aus den inneren peripheren Kanälen aufweisen.
  3. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Türverbindungsmittel Mittel (35) zum Erzeugen eines Vakuums zwischen den beiden Türen oder eine elektromagnetische Kupplung zwischen den beiden Türen aufweisen.
  4. Transferschleuse (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Türverbindungsmittel aufweisen:
    • mittige Flächenvertiefungen (30, 32) der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) die eine Kammer (34) zwischen den beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) während der gekuppelten Position der beiden sterilen Umgebungen (36) bilden,
    • Vakuumdichtungsmittel (44, 46), welche die Kammer (34) umgeben, um eine Vakuumdichtung zwischen den beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) zu bilden, und
    • einen Einlaß (35) in die Kammer (34), um die Kammer einem unteratmosphärischen Druck auszusetzen und dadurch die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) während der gekuppelten Position der beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) miteinander zu verbinden.
  5. Transferschleuse (1) nach einem'der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei
    • die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) eine rechteckige Konfiguration und so geformte periphere Kanten haben, daß die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72), wenn sie miteinander verbunden sind, einen Pyramidenstumpf bilden, und
    • die Öffnungsmittel (70) schwenkbare Verbindungsmittel zum schwenkbaren Verbinden einer der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72), welche die Basis des Pyramidenstumpfs bildet, mit einem der beiden Türrahmen aufweisen.
  6. Transferschleuse (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, weiter mit lösbaren Verbindungsmitteln (48) zum lösbaren Verbinden der anderen der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) mit dem anderen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12), so daß, wenn die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) verbunden sind, die andere der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) sich vom anderen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) löst, und, wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich im ungekuppelten Zustand befinden, die andere der beiden Türen (14, 16, 72) mit dem anderen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) verbunden ist.
  7. Transferschleuse (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei
    • mindestens eine der sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) außerdem ein Vakuumraum ist, und
    • die Transferschleuse (1) weiter mindestens eine äußere Vakuumtür (72), die an mindestens einem der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) angelenkt ist, und Dichtungsmittel (82) zum Abdichten mindestens einer der äußeren Vakuumtüren (72) gegen mindestens einen der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) aufweist.
  8. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 7, wobei
    • eine der beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) stationär ist und den Vakuumraum darstellt, und die andere sterile Umgebung mobil ist,
    • mindestens eine äußere Vakuumtür (72) an einem der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) angelenkt ist, und
    • die Dichtungsmittel (82) eine Vakuum-O-Ringdichtung aufweisen, die in einem der beiden Türrahmen (10, 12) eingesetzt ist.
  9. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 8, wobei die mindestens eine Vakuumtür (72) eine so konfigurierte Innenschicht aufweist, daß sie als Wärmetauscher zum Zirkulieren des Wärmeaustauschmediums darin wirkt, und eine äußere Vakuum-abgedichtete Schicht angrenzend an die Innenschicht aufweist.
  10. Transferschleuse (1) nach Anspruch 9, wobei
    • die beiden Türen (72) eine rechteckige Konfiguration und periphere Kanten haben, die so geformt sind, daß die beiden Türen (14, 16, 72), wenn sie miteinander verbunden sind, einen Pyramidenstumpf bilden,
    • die Öffnungsmittel (70) schwenkbare Verbindungsmittel zum schwenkbaren Verbinden eine der beiden Türen (70), die eine Basis des Pyramidenstumpfs bildet, mit einem der Rahmen aufweisen, und
    • die Transferschleuse (1) des weiteren lösbare Verbindungsmittel (48) zum lösbaren Verbinden der anderen Tür (70) mit dem anderen Türrahmen (70) aufweist, so daß, wenn die beiden Türen miteinander verbunden sind, die andere Tür sich von dem anderen Türrahmen (10, 12) löst, und wenn die beiden sterilen Umgebungen (3, 6) sich in ihrer ungekuppelten Position befindet, die Tür (70) mit dem anderen Türrahmen (10, 12) verbunden ist.
Anspruch[en]
Claims for the following Contracting States : DE, ES, FR, GB, IT
  1. A transfer port (1) between two sterile environments having docked and undocked positions, the transfer port comprising:
    • two door frames (10, 12) connected to the environments and two doors (14, 16, 72) connected to the two door frames (10, 12) so that when the two sterile environments (3, 6) are in the docked position, the two door frames (10, 12) and the two doors (14, 16, 72) are juxtaposed and in close physical contact with one another and when the two sterile environments (36) are in the undocked position, the two door frames (10, 12) are spaced apart from one another and the two doors (14, 16) seal the two sterile environments (3, 6);
    • the two door frames (10, 12) and doors (14, 16, 72) having a potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture (36) located at an outer periphery of the two doors (14, 16, 72) when in their juxtaposition;
    • door connection means (35) for connecting the two doors to one another when the two sterile environments (36) are in the docked position;
    • opening means (70) for opening the transfer port, the opening means having means for moving the doors (14, 16, 72) when connected to one another between a closed position sealing the two sterile environments (36) and an open position away from the two door frames (10, 12) permitting transport through the two door frames (10, 12) and between the two sterile environments (3,6); and
    • heating means (94, 96) for heating and thereby sterilising the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture (36).
    wherein the heating means comprises at least one of the two door frames (10, 12) having internal channels (39) for circulation of a heat transfer fluid to heat the two door frames (10, 12) and the two doors and thereby sterilise the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture.
  2. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 1 in which the door connection means has means (35) for producing a vacuum between the two doors or an electromagnetic coupling between the two doors.
  3. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 1 or Claim 2 in which the door connection means comprises:
    • the two doors (14, 16, 72) having central recessed surfaces (30, 32) forming a chamber (34) between the two doors (14, 16, 72) during the docked position of the two sterile environments (36);
    • vacuum sealing means (44, 46) surrounding the chamber (34) for forming a vacuum seal between the two doors (14, 16, 72); and
    • an inlet (35) to the chamber (34) for subjecting the chamber to a subatmospheric pressure, thereby to connect the two doors (14, 16, 72) to one another during the docked position of the two sterile environments (3, 6).
  4. A transfer port (1) according to any preceding claim in which:
    • the two doors (14, 16, 72) are of rectangular configuration and have peripheral edges shaped so that the two doors (14, 16, 72) when connected to one another form a frustum of a pyramid; and
    • the opening means (70) include pivotable connection means for pivotably connecting one of the two doors (14, 16, 72) forming a base of the frustum to one of the two frames.
  5. A transfer port (1) according to any preceding claim, further comprising releasable connection means (48) for releasable connecting the other of the two doors (14, 16, 72) to the other of the two door frames (10, 12) so that when the two doors (14, 16, 72) are connected the other of the two doors (14, 16, 72) releases from the other of the two door frames (10, 12) and when the two sterile environments (3, 6) are in their undocked positions, the other of the two doors (14, 16, 72) is connected to the other of the two door frames (10, 12).
  6. A transfer port (1) according to any preceding claim in which:
    • at least one of the sterile environments (3, 6) is also a vacuum environment; and
    • the transfer port (1) further comprises at least one outer vacuum door (72) hinged to at least one of the two door frames (10, 12) and sealing means (82) for sealing at least one of the outer vacuum doors (72) to at least one of the two door frames (10, 12).
  7. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 6, in which:
    • one of the two sterile environments (3, 6) is stationary and is the vacuum environment and the other sterile environment is mobile;
    • at least one outer vacuum door (72) is hinged to one of the door frames (10, 12); and
    • the sealing means (82) comprises a vacuum 'O'-ring seal set within one of the two door frames (10, 12).
  8. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 7, in which the at least one vacuum door (72) has an inner layer configured to act as a heat exchanger for circulating the heat exchange fluid therewithin and an outer vacuum sealed layer, adjacent the inner layer.
  9. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 8, in which:
    • the two doors (72) are of rectangular configuration and have peripheral edges shaped so that the two doors (14, 16, 72) when connected to one another form a frustum of a pyramid;
    • the opening means (70) include pivotable connection means for pivotably connecting one of the doors (70) forming a base of the frustum to one of the frames, and
    • a transfer port (1) further comprises releasable connection means (48) for releasable connecting the other door (70) to the other door frame (70) so that when the two doors are connected the other door releases from the other door frame (10, 12) and when the two sterile environments (3, 6) are in their undocked positions, the door (70) is connected to the other door frame (10, 12).
Claims for the following Contracting States : AT, BE, DK, NL, SE
  1. A transfer port (1) between two sterile environments having docked and undocked positions, the transfer port comprising:
    • two door frames (10, 12) connected to the environments and two doors (14, 16, 72) connected to the two door frames (10, 12) so that when the two sterile environments (3, 6) are in the docked position, the two door frames (10, 12) and the two doors (14, 16, 72) are juxtaposed and in close physical contact with one another and when the two sterile environments (36) are in the undocked position, the two door frames (10, 12) are spaced apart from one another and the two doors (14, 16) seal the two sterile environments (3, 6);
    • the two door frames (10, 12) and doors (14, 16, 72) having a potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture (36) located at an outer periphery of the two doors (14, 16, 72) when in their juxtaposition;
    • door connection means (35) for connecting the two doors to one another when the two sterile environments (36) are in the docked position;
    • opening means (70) for opening the transfer port, the opening means having means for moving the doors (14, 16, 72) when connected to one another between a closed position sealing the two sterile environments (36) and an open position away from the two door frames (10, 12) permitting transport through the two door frames (10, 12) and between the two sterile environments (3,6); and
    • heating means (94, 96) for heating and thereby sterilising the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture (36).
  2. A transfer port according to Claim 1 in which the heating means comprises at least one of the two door frames (10, 12) having internal channels (39) for circulation of a heat transfer fluid to heat the two door frames (10, 12) and the two doors and thereby sterilise the potentially non-sterile peripheral juncture, an inlet and an outlet to the internal peripheral channels for introducing the heat transfer fluid into the internal peripheral channels and for discharging the heat transfer fluid from the internal peripheral channels, respectively.
  3. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 1 or Claim 2 in which the door connection means has means (35) for producing a vacuum between the two doors or an electromagnetic coupling between the two doors.
  4. A transfer port (1) according to any preceding claim in which the door connection means comprises:
    • the two doors (14, 16, 72) having central recessed surfaces (30, 32) forming a chamber (34) between the two doors (14, 16, 72) during the docked position of the two sterile environments (36); vacuum sealing means (44, 46) surrounding said chamber (34) for forming a vacuum seal between the two doors (14, 16, 72); and
    • an inlet (35) to the chamber (34) for subjecting the chamber to a subatmospheric pressure, thereby to connect the two doors (14, 16, 72) to one another during the docked position of the two sterile environments (3, 6).
  5. A transfer port (1) according to any preceding claim in which:
    • the two doors (14, 16, 72) are of rectangular configuration and have peripheral edges shaped so that the two doors (14, 16, 72) when connected to one another form a frustum of a pyramid; and
    • the opening means (70) include pivotable connection means for pivotably connecting one of the two doors (14, 16, 72) forming a base of the frustum to one of the two frames.
  6. A transfer port (1) according to any preceding claim, further comprising releasable connection means (48) for releasable connecting the other of the two doors (14, 16, 72) to the other of the two door frames (10, 12) so that when the two doors (14, 16, 72) are connected the other of the two doors (14, 16, 72) releases from the other of the two door frames (10, 12) and when the two sterile environments (3, 6) are in their undocked positions, the other of the two doors (14, 16, 72) is connected to the other of the two door frames (10, 12).
  7. A transfer port (1) according to any preceding claim in which:
    • at least one of the sterile environments (3, 6) is also a vacuum environment; and
    • the transfer port (1) further comprises at least one outer vacuum door (72) hinged to at least one of the two door frames (10, 12) and sealing means (82) for sealing at least one of the outer vacuum doors (72) to at least one of the two door frames (10, 12).
  8. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 7, in which:
    • one of the two sterile environments (3, 6) is stationary and is the vacuum environment and the other sterile environment is mobile;
    • at least one outer vacuum door (72) is hinged to one of the door frames (10, 12); and
    • the sealing means (82) comprises a vacuum 'O'-ring seal set within one of the two door frames (10, 12).
  9. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 8, in which the at least one vacuum door (72) has an inner layer configured to act as a heat exchanger for circulating the heat exchange fluid therewithin and an outer vacuum sealed layer, adjacent the inner layer.
  10. A transfer port (1) according to Claim 9, in which:
    • the two doors (72) are of rectangular configuration and have peripheral edges shaped so that the two doors (14, 16, 72) when connected to one another form a frustum of a pyramid;
    • the opening means (70) include pivotable connection means for pivotably connecting one of the doors (70) forming a base of the frustum to one of the frames, and
    • a transfer port (1) further comprises releasable connection means (48) for releasable connecting the other door (70) to the other door frame (70) so that when the two doors are connected the other door releases from the other door frame (10, 12) and when the two sterile environments (3, 6) are in their undocked positions, the door (70) is connected to the other door frame (10, 12).
Anspruch[fr]
Revendications pour les Etats contractants suivants : DE, ES, FR, GB, IT
  1. Ouverture (1) de transfert entre deux environnements stériles ayant une position amarrée et une position non amarrée, l'ouverture de transfert comprenant :
    • deux châssis (10, 12) de porte reliés aux environnements et deux portes (14, 16, 72) raccordées aux deux châssis (10, 12) de porte de telle façon que, lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont en position amarrée, les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et les deux portes (14, 16, 72) soient juxtaposés et en contact physique étroit entre eux, et que lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans la position non amarrée, les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte soient espacés l'un de l'autre et les deux portes (14, 16) étanchent les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) ;
    • les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et les portes (14, 16, 72) ayant une jonction périphérique (36) potentiellement non stérile, située sur une périphérie extérieure des deux portes (14, 16, 72) lorsqu'ils sont en juxtaposition ;
    • des moyens (35) de raccordement des portes pour raccorder les deux portes entre elles lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans la position amarrée ;
    • des moyens d'ouverture (70) pour ouvrir l'ouverture de transfert, les moyens d'ouverture ayant des moyens pour imprimer un mouvement aux portes (14, 16, 72), lorsqu'elles sont raccordées l'une à l'autre, entre une position fermée étanchant les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) et une position ouverte écartée des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte, permettant un transport à travers les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et entre les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) ; et
    • des moyens de chauffage (94, 96) pour chauffer, et ainsi stériliser, la jonction périphérique (36) potentiellement non stérile,
       dans laquelle les moyens de chauffage englobent au moins l'un des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte présentant des canaux internes (39) pour la circulation d'un fluide caloporteur destiné à chauffer les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et les deux portes et, ainsi, à stériliser la jonction périphérique potentiellement non stérile.
  2. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 1, dans laquelle les moyens de raccordement des portes possèdent des moyens (35) pour créer un vide entre les deux portes ou un couplage électromagnétique entre les deux portes.
  3. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 1 ou la Revendication 2, dans laquelle les moyens de raccordement des portes comprennent :
    • les deux portes (14, 16, 72) ayant des surfaces centrales en creux (30, 32) formant une chambre (34) entre les deux portes (14, 16, 72) pendant la position amarrée des deux environnements stériles (3, 6) ;
    • des moyens (44, 46) de fermeture étanche sous vide entourant la chambre (34) pour former un joint d'étanchéité sous vide entre les deux portes (14, 16, 72) ; et
    • un orifice d'entrée (35) pour la chambre (34) pour soumettre la chambre à une pression subatmosphérique, afin ainsi de raccorder les deux portes (14, 16, 72) l'une à l'autre pendant la position amarrée des deux environnements stériles (3, 6).
  4. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon l'une quelconque des Revendications précédentes, dans laquelle :
    • les deux portes (14, 16, 72) sont de configuration rectangulaire et ont des bordures périphériques configurées de telle sorte que les deux portes (14, 16, 72), lorsqu'elles sont raccordées l'une à l'autre, forment un tronc de pyramide ; et
    • les moyens d'ouverture (70) comprennent des moyens de raccordement pivotants pour raccorder de manière pivotante l'une des deux portes (14, 16, 72) formant une base du tronc à l'un des deux châssis.
  5. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon l'une quelconque des Revendications précédentes, comprenant additionnellement des moyens (48) de raccordement libérables pour raccorder de manière libérable l'autre des deux portes (14, 16, 72) à l'autre des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte afin que, lorsque les deux portes (14, 16, 72) sont raccordées, l'autre des deux portes (14, 16, 72) se libère de l'autre des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et, lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans leurs positions non amarrées, l'autre des deux portes (14, 16, 72) soit raccordée à l'autre des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte.
  6. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon l'une quelconque des Revendications précédentes, dans laquelle :
    • au moins l'un des environnements stériles (3, 6) est également un environnement sous vide ; et
    • l'ouverture (1) de transfert comprend de plus au moins une porte extérieure (72) pour vide articulée sur l'un au moins des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et des moyens de fermeture étanche (82) pour étancher au moins l'une des portes extérieures pour vide (72) avec au moins l'un des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte.
  7. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 6, dans laquelle :
    • l'un des deux environnements stériles (3, 6) est fixe et constitue l'environnement sous vide et l'autre environnement stérile est mobile ;
    • au moins une porte extérieure (72) pour vide est articulée sur l'un des châssis (10, 12) de porte ; et
    • les moyens de fermeture étanche (82) comprennent un joint à vide torique fixé dans l'un des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte.
  8. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 7, dans laquelle la porte (72) au nombre d'au moins une possède une couche intérieure configurée pour servir d'échangeur de chaleur pour la circulation du fluide caloporteur à l'intérieur et une couche extérieure étanche au vide, adjacente à la couche intérieure.
  9. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 8, dans laquelle :
    • les deux portes (72) sont de configuration rectangulaire et ont des bordures périphériques configurées de telle sorte que les deux portes (14, 16, 72), lorsqu'elles sont raccordées l'une à l'autre, forment un tronc de pyramide ;
    • les moyens d'ouverture (70) comprennent des moyens de raccordement pivotants pour raccorder de manière pivotante l'une des portes (70) formant une base du tronc à l'un des châssis, et
    • l'ouverture (1) de transfert comprend de plus des moyens (48) de raccordement libérables pour raccorder de manière libérable l'autre porte (70) à l'autre châssis (70) de porte afin que, lorsque les deux portes sont raccordées, l'autre porte se libère de l'autre châssis (10, 12) de porte et, lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans leurs positions non amarrées, la porte (70) soit raccordée à l'autre châssis (10, 12) de porte.
Revendications pour les Etats contractants suivants : AT, BE, DK, NL, SE
  1. Ouverture (1) de transfert entre deux environnements stériles ayant une position amarrée et une position non amarrée, l'ouverture de transfert comprenant :
    • deux châssis (10, 12) de porte reliés aux environnements et deux portes (14, 16, 72) raccordées aux deux châssis (10, 12) de porte de telle façon que, lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont en position amarrée, les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et les deux portes (14, 16, 72) soient juxtaposés et en contact physique étroit entre eux, et que, lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans la position non amarrée, les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte soient espacés l'un de l'autre et les deux portes (14, 16) étanchent les deux environnements stériles (3, 6);
    • les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et les portes (14, 16, 72) ayant une jonction périphérique (36) potentiellement non stérile, située sur une périphérie extérieure des deux portes (14, 16, 72) lorsqu'ils sont en juxtaposition ;
    • des moyens (35) de raccordement des portes pour raccorder les deux portes entre elles lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans la position amarrée ;
    • des moyens d'ouverture (70) pour ouvrir l'ouverture de transfert, les moyens d'ouverture ayant des moyens pour imprimer un mouvement aux portes (14, 16, 72), lorsqu'elles sont raccordées l'une à l'autre, entre une position fermée étanchant les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) et une position ouverte écartée des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte, permettant un transport à travers les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et entre les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) ; et
    • des moyens de chauffage (94, 96) pour chauffer, et ainsi stériliser, la jonction périphérique (36) potentiellement non stérile.
  2. Ouverture de transfert selon la Revendication 1, dans laquelle les moyens de chauffage englobent au moins l'un des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte présentant des canaux internes (39) pour la circulation d'un fluide caloporteur destiné à chauffer les deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et les deux portes et, ainsi, à stériliser la jonction périphérique potentiellement non stérile, une entrée et une sortie pour les canaux périphériques internes destinées respectivement à l'introduction du fluide caloporteur dans les canaux périphériques internes et à l'évacuation du fluide caloporteur des canaux périphériques internes.
  3. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 1 ou la Revendication 2, dans laquelle les moyens de raccordement des portes possèdent des moyens (35) pour créer un vide entre les deux portes ou un couplage électromagnétique entre les deux portes.
  4. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 1 ou la Revendication 2, dans laquelle les moyens de raccordement des portes comprennent :
    • les deux portes (14, 16, 72) ayant des surfaces centrales en creux (30, 32) formant une chambre (34) entre les deux portes (14, 16, 72) pendant la position amarrée des deux environnements stériles (3, 6) ;
    • des moyens (44, 46) de fermeture étanche sous vide entourant la chambre (34) pour former un joint d'étanchéité sous vide entre les deux portes (14, 16, 72) ; et
    • un orifice d'entrée (35) pour la chambre (34) pour soumettre la chambre à une pression subatmosphérique, afin ainsi de raccorder les deux portes (14, 16, 72) l'une à l'autre pendant la position amarrée des deux environnements stériles (3, 6).
  5. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon l'une quelconque des Revendications précédentes, dans laquelle :
    • les deux portes (14, 16, 72) sont de configuration rectangulaire et ont des bordures périphériques configurées de telle sorte que les deux portes (14, 16, 72), lorsqu'elles sont raccordées l'une à l'autre, forment un tronc de pyramide ; et
    • les moyens d'ouverture (70) comprennent des moyens de raccordement pivotants pour raccorder de manière pivotante l'une des deux portes (14, 16, 72) formant une base du tronc à l'un des deux châssis.
  6. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon l'une quelconque des Revendications précédentes, comprenant additionnellement des moyens (48) de raccordement libérables pour raccorder de manière libérable l'autre des deux portes (14, 16, 72) à l'autre des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte afin que, lorsque les deux portes (14, 16, 72) sont raccordées, l'autre des deux portes (14, 16, 72) se libère de l'autre des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et, lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans leurs positions non amarrées, l'autre des deux portes (14, 16, 72) soit raccordée à l'autre des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte.
  7. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon l'une quelconque des Revendications précédentes, dans laquelle :
    • au moins l'un des environnements stériles (3, 6) est également un environnement sous vide ; et
    • l'ouverture (1) de transfert comprend de plus au moins une porte extérieure (72) pour vide articulée sur l'un au moins des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte et des moyens de fermeture étanche (82) pour étancher au moins l'une des portes extérieures (72) pour vide avec au moins l'un des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte.
  8. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 6, dans laquelle :
    • l'un des deux environnements stériles (3, 6) est fixe et constitue l'environnement sous vide et l'autre environnement stérile est mobile ;
    • au moins une porte extérieure (72) pour vide est articulée sur l'un des châssis (10, 12) de porte ; et
    • les moyens de fermeture étanche (82) comprennent un joint à vide torique fixé dans l'un des deux châssis (10, 12) de porte.
  9. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 8, dans laquelle la porte (72) au nombre d'au moins une possède une couche intérieure configurée pour servir d'échangeur de chaleur pour la circulation du fluide caloporteur à l'intérieur et une couche extérieure étanche au vide, adjacente à la couche intérieure.
  10. Ouverture (1) de transfert selon la Revendication 9, dans laquelle :
    • les deux portes (72) sont de configuration rectangulaire et ont des bordures périphériques configurées de telle sorte que les deux portes (14, 16, 72), lorsqu'elles sont raccordées l'une à l'autre, forment un tronc de pyramide ;
    • les moyens d'ouverture (70) comprennent des moyens de raccordement pivotants pour raccorder de manière pivotante l'une des portes (70) formant une base du tronc à l'un des châssis, et
    • l'ouverture (1) de transfert comprend de plus des moyens (48) de raccordement libérables pour raccorder de manière libérable l'autre porte (70) à l'autre châssis (70) de porte afin que, lorsque les deux portes sont raccordées, l'autre porte se libère de l'autre châssis (10, 12) de porte et, lorsque les deux environnements stériles (3, 6) sont dans leurs positions non amarrées, la porte (70) soit raccordée à l'autre châssis (10, 12) de porte.






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